May

Hochreiter

Dr. Ronald Hochreiter has been invited to present at the annual ARS Investment Funds Conference in June 2021. The event is targeted towards professionals in the fields of banking, law, and accounting, among others. Dr. Hochreiter’s keynote address, “AI, Fintech & Asset Management”, will give context to investing in current market conditions considering ongoing regulatory developments, economic megatrends, and the effect of AI on asset management.

Dr. Hochreiter is thrilled to have the opportunity to share his knowledge on the cutting-edge issues effecting today’s business decisions. He will be joined by several leaders in the field of finance and investment from Austria and abroad, including WVPU adjunct instructor, Dr. Armin Kammel.

More details could be found here.

 

April

Dr. Menbere Workie is once again representing the B&M department for April. Please see below and please use the attached photo for the research news:

The WVPU Business & Management Department congratulates Dr. Menbere Workie on his recent publication: Currency Depreciations in Emerging Economics: A Blessing or a Curse for External Debt Management?  A working paper published at Charles University in Prague.

Abstract:

“We investigate the long-term effect of domestic currency depreciation on the external debt for a panel of 41 emerging economies over the years 1999-2019. Using heterogeneous panel co-integration methods, we find that domestic currency depreciation leads to an increase in external debt to GDP ratio over the long-term and it reduces the sustainability of external debt. This is particularly the case for larger depreciations, while smaller depreciations might reduce the external debt burden over the long-term for more developed emerging economies. Poorer emerging economies face a greater increase in external debt burden following domestic currency depreciation. We also find that higher exchange rate volatility and the use of floating exchange rates contributes to an increase in external debt burden over the long-term. Consequently, our results suggest that for emerging economies, having more volatile and floating exchange rates reduces the sustainability of external debt.”

Read it here.

Well done, Dr. Workie!

 

March

membere

This past month, Business & Managemen Associate Professor Dr. Menbere Workie was author of two important publications on the topic of Capital Flight. Business & Management students were able to gain a sneak peek into his writing process last year when he presented the topic during the Research Seminar series hosted by the department. We recently interviewed Dr. Workie on his accomplishment.

WVPU: Dr. Workie, you’ve recently published quite a bit on the topic of capital flight. Can you tell us a little more about your articles and book project? How would you explain your research to someone who doesn’t have a background in this topic?

Menbere: This is not one of the easiest topics to explain to people who do not have a background but let me try the following. For an economy that is open for international trade and investment, the following rules apply for its balance of payments: The sum of the current account and capital and financial accounts must be equal to zero.

If not, then the sum of the current account, capital and financial account, and official reserves must be equal to zero. If this doesn’t hold, then the following must hold by definition: The sum of the current account, capital and financial account, official reserves and errors and omissions must now be zero. The last item, which is referred to as the “balancing item”, consist of two parts: errors and omissions. The errors part indicates transactions that have been recorded but they have been recorded in wrong sub-accounts in the balance of payments. The omissions part indicates transactions have not been reported at all.

Unfortunately, central banks and the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank do report the overall errors and omissions for each country without splitting the two, which makes it harder to distinguish the impact of errors from those of the omissions. 

WVPU: Tell us a bit about your research profile in general, and how you first became passionate about studying capital flight specifically. 

Menbere: Since I studied both economics and finance, I do try to study wide-range of issues in finance and economics and try to understand the “economics of finance” and the “finance of economics”.  My Supervisor, Prof. Stephan Klasen who was a graduate of Harvard University and supervised by the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Amartya Sen, has his fingerprints in shaping my research areas and I will remain indebted to him. Most of the projects I have been involved in revolve around exploring business cycle phenomenon, the dynamics of income disparity, external imbalances, capital flight, and the labor market.  

It was during my Ph.D. days at the University of Munich [that I became interested in capital flight]. One of the fundamental questions in economics is to investigate the reasons behind why some countries are rich while others are poor. Turning to the question of capital flight, this is a fascinating research topic for two main reasons.

First, as the world economy gets intertwined and there is a fairly high mobility of capital and goods across borders, the size of misreporting has also been elevating. Second, capital flight can lead to tax evasion and hampers domestic investment, reduces the process of capital accumulation, and eventually leads to sluggish economic growth.
 
WVPU: How did this publication come about? How long have you been working on this project?

Menbere: This paper was a part of the project, which I was the principal investigator: “Capital Flight and its Impact on the Slovak economy” and was financed by the Slovak Development and Research Agency, which ran during 2015-2019 period. As a part of this project, we published three articles and one book: 

  • Workie T. M., Siranova, M. and Ostrihon, F. (2021). “Does capital flight harm domestic investment?: An empirical investigation from a panel of emerging and advanced Europe”. In Journal of Economics/Ekonomický časopis, 2021, vol.  69, no. 8, pp. 135-157. https://doi.org/10.31577/ekoncas.2021.02.02
  • Siranova, M. and Workie T. M. (2018). “Exploding net errors and omissions as a capital flight phenomenon: the case of Slovakia” Applied Economics, 2018, vol. 50, no. 16, pp. 1866-1884. https://doi.org/10.1080/00036846.2017.1380288
  • Siranova, M. and Workie T. M., and Fisera, B.  (2021). “Creating the illicit capital flows network in Europe – Do the net errors and omissions follow an economic pattern?” In International Review of Economics and Finance, 2021, vol. 71, pp. 955-973. ISSN 1059-0560. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iref.2020.10.020.
  • Workie, T.M. (2018). “Overshooting the Maastricht Criteria: External Imbalances and Income Convergence in the European Union”. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2018. 221 p. ISBN 978-1-53613-585-5

WVPU: What were some key findings from your research? Did anything surprise you?

Menbere: Previous studies based on the Lane and Milesi-Ferretti (2007) international database on the external wealth of nations, Zucman (2013) estimated that approximately 8% of the global financial wealth of households has been held in tax havens and that a significant proportion of this wealth has gone missing. 

An alarming piece of evidence from our study’s perspective is that the findings indicate a significant proportion of European securities have “no identifiable owner”.  One way to detect the magnitude of capital flight and its ramifications on economic growth and investment is to take errors and omissions from the balance of payments data. High and volatile errors and omissions indicate either over-reporting of foreign liabilities or under-reporting of foreign assets.

Recently leaked documents (the Luxembourg leaks or “LuxLeaks” of 2014, the Swiss leaks in 2015, the Panama Papers of 2016, and the Paradise Papers of 2018) exposed a number of individuals and firms, predominantly from advanced economies, who have held their wealth in tax havens. This only confirms the severity of the problem related to illicit financial flows in advanced economies.

These unrecorded or misreported flows reduce domestic investment by reducing the capital-to-out ratio and compressed capital accumulations lead to sluggish long-run economic growth.  Our studies, based on errors and omissions and the residual model and panel OLS and GMM estimations, suggest the significant impact of capital flight on investment in the European economies we investigated. 

WVPU: Which resources do you use to locate reliable data for your research?

Menbere: I use the Eurostat database, World Bank World Economic Indicators, IMF World Economic Outlook, OECD database, the Groningen Growth and Development Centre database and Pen World Tables among others

WVPU: What recommendations do you have for a student who is interested in studying this and similar topics?

Menbere: I have been with WVPU since 2014 (as an adjunct during 2014-2016) and a fulltime faculty since 2019. What I have witnessed during all these years is that we really have talented students. However, talent alone is only a necessary condition and not a sufficient one. When talent merges with intellectual curiosity, it then becomes a great tool to conduct research. Students can start from modest background, such as literature review and replication research.

The two can help them to get the “smell” of what it takes to produce academic work. Learning a good software program is an inevitable part of the beginning of a true research and there are econometric software programs that are freely available as student copies. The combination of talent, curiosity, and a sound knowledge of an econometric software program should significantly facilitate an entry to the research world. This also must be the starting point to write their thesis. 

 

February

Leading the Fight against Workplace Bullying

Dr. Eva Zedlacher, Assistant Professor of Management, works on two grants from the Lower Austria Chamber of Labor (AK NÖ) to address “third-party action” in preventing workplace bullying. She sat down with our team to discuss her work.

Figure 1“An allem Unfug, der passiert, sind nicht etwa nur die schuld, die ihn tun, sondern auch die, die ihn nicht verhindern”  E. Kaestner (All the nonsense that happens is not only the fault of those who do it, but also of those who do not prevent it).

Background

Dr. Zedlacher’s research in third-party awareness and intervention, so called “third-party action”, could be effective at fighting workplace bullying at its core. She has found that in order to make a difference, third parties must first be aware of the dynamics of workplace bullying and their own responsibility to stop it.

Workplace bullying is often subtle and not easy to identify for third parties, but even when bullying escalates and becomes more visible, it has been found that peers and organizations often do nothing about it, or even blame the target’s personality or behavior for what has happened. This lack of support often leads to further escalation and detrimental health consequences. The “failure to intervene” is not just a moral issue; organizations in Austria also have the legal “duty of care” (“Fürsorgepflicht”) to provide a harassment-free workplace.

WVPU: Dr. Zedlacher, you have now received two grants from the Lower Austria Chamber of Labor for two separate projects. Can you tell us a bit more about them?

Dr. Zedlacher: For the first, smaller project supported by the Chamber of Labor (AK NÖ) , I was particularly interested in whether prior work performance ratings (e.g. high or low) of the targets affected the helping intentions of the third parties, and whether/how third parties attribute blame to a single (f)actor; or whether they engage in so-called “multiblaming”. We know from previous research that HR professionals in particular often consider bullying complaints as stemming from negative performance feedback. In turn, these complaints are often trivialized and the targets are blamed for what happened to them (“victim blaming”). The problem with that is that ignorance or trivialization of a complaint may escalate the problem, as targets may feel even more bullied due to the lack of support.

Allison Snowden, a recent MBA graduate, was an integral part of my work in determining the effect of performance ratings and blame patterns on the perception of bullying. She used much of our research in her own thesis, which I am happy to report she successfully defended this past year. We have presented preliminary results at various conferences. We can show that people often engage in blaming different (f)actors for a negative and complex event, and that victim blaming is still very prevalent among third parties. One of the implications of our findings for organizational practice is that any training should make people reflect and question their (immediate) blaming tendencies. Rather than individualizing the problem, practitioners as experts should also point to structural causes and measures that might be a cause or a solution to the problem.

The second, larger project with the AK NÖ is ongoing. Here the focus lies more on intervention by direct bystanders in workplace bullying incidents, including electronic media. We will conduct video experiments with fictional scenarios to investigate how direct bystanders respond to different forms of misconduct at work, in particular when the interaction takes place via emails on smartphones. The final goal of this project is to produce an interactive video training tool for workforce members and trainers to become more aware of the (negative) effects of new forms of interactions, including ways to intervene effectively. I am working with two great film producers who support me with casting of actors/actresses and the plot for the final movie. They will also program the final interactive training.

Anastasiia Hizenko, an excellent undergraduate Management student, has been assisting in this project. She has been with me since last year her support in literature research, administration and pre-testing is invaluable. Reza Noori Khoondabi, a graduate Psychology student, recently joined our team in January. He will be an additional help for implementing the experiments into the final survey and will also assist with preliminary data analysis. I am very happy to have both of these great students in my project.

I am very thankful that Webster Vienna supports faculty research through scholarships for research assistants! I believe it’s also important to recognize the effort and dedication of AK NÖ of not only supporting work force services, but also for investing into employment relationships. Without their grant funding, such research designs with video experiments would not be possible.

WVPU: Your research touches on cyberbullying as a new theme in workplace harassment. In the digital age and with more work conducted online, it is easy to see how this can become problematic. What are some of the qualities of cyberbullying that make it different from other types of workplace bullying?

Dr. Zedlacher: Cyberbullying in particular can be detrimental because victims can be haunted by attacks. For instance, a single harassing message on Instagram is posted only once, but can be shared with a diverse mass and read repeatedly. Less dramatic and very, generally speaking, the digitalization of our work interactions may provide grounds for misbehavior and misunderstandings, which might require some ethics guidelines. Imagine you receive a late-night email from your boss on your work smartphone with some new urgent tasks. Some might feel harassed and wonder, “Why can’t s/he wait till the next day with the new tasks”; some might simply ignore the late mail anyway.

WVPU: This is fascinating work and obviously can be applied to real-world scenarios. Where could one learn more about your work before you finish these two projects?

Dr. Zedlacher: My latest book chapter in the “Handbook of Research on Cyberbullying and Online Harassment in the Workplace” is a good place to start. There my co-author Martina Hartner-Tiefenthaler from TU Wien and I discuss more about whether the digitalization of work is dangerous for ethical climates at work and how to prevent cyberbullying in the digital workspace.

Civility Values and Cyberbullying Prevention in the Digital Workspace: How to Foster an Ethical Climate of Respect

Eva Zedlacher (Webster Vienna Private University, Austria) and Martina Hartner-Tiefenthaler (Vienna University of Technology, Austria)
Handbook of Research on Cyberbullying and Online Harassment in the Workplace

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4912-4.ch027

 

January

Punzi

Due to her outstanding contribution to the field, Assistant Professor of Economics Dr. Maria Teresa Punzi was invited by the Asian Development Bank to contribute to their upcoming book titled Debt Sustainability in Asia. In late November, she had the opportunity to present her chapter on household debt during the Bank’s international conference, held virtually this year. Dr. Punzi shared her experience with us:

WVPU: Earlier this year you were handpicked to contribute to the Asian Development Bank’s book on debt sustainability. Can you tell us a little about how that came to pass and the topic(s) you were asked to cover?

Dr. Punzi: In March of this year, the Asian Development Bank approached me about writing a chapter on household debt in Asia for a book they plan to publish in 2021. I have published extensively on this topic in the past and was asked to contribute based on my expertise on the subject. I started setting my idea on how to organize the study for my chapter in April and met several times with staff from the Asian Development Bank to help organize and shape the book. The book itself, titled "Debt Sustainability in Asia", will consist of 19 chapters with contributors from around the world.

WVPU: What were some of the key findings that emerged as you studied household debt in Asia?

Dr. Punzi: The project was aimed at studying and assessing the household debt in Asia during the last decade. Many Asian economies show a large increase in their household debt-to-GDP ratio, similar to the United States just before the global financial crisis in 2007. For example, South Korea reached the household debt-to-GDP ratio around 98% by the end of 2019 (the U.S. household debt-to-GDP ratio stood at 99% by the end of 2007). 

Household leverage has also been high or rising in the People’s Republic of China, Malaysia, and Thailand, posing high risk in terms of financial stability. The study finds that the Asian region shows that an increase in household debt initially increases real GDP, but such a rise is very short-lived as real GDP begins to decline after 1 year. This phenomenon indicates that elevated household debt is a precursor of economic recessions.

WVPU: How serious do you think these current shifts in the household debt-to-GDP could be?

Dr. Punzi: The topic is very important. An excessive level of indebtedness in a country could pose a risk of default as the debt becomes unsustainable and households stop servicing their debt. When that happens, banks will face serious problems due to balance sheet distress. More seriously, high level of household debt-to-GDP ratio could even lead to a deep recession.

The problem of high household debt level can be aggravated during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many households have suffered from a sudden decrease in income due to seized working hours, furloughs and outright unemployment, making their ability to repay the debt difficult.

WVPU: Can you share some final thoughts on this topic and any potential future implications your study may have?

Dr. Punzi: Since the global financial crisis, policy-makers have worked diligently to develop instruments to avoid excessive indebtedness and consequential recession. However, many countries in Asia have been accumulating large levels of debt, posing questions as to the effectiveness of the latest instruments proposed by policy-makers. I would suggest that more research should be done to lean against the credit cycle if we are to avoid future recessions.

December 

Collaboration is key! This is one of the guiding principles of the Business & Management Department where colleagues from across disciplines and organizations are encouraged to join forces.

Most recently, Associate Professor of Economics and B&M Department Head Dr. Nikolaos Antonakakis teamed up with WVPU adjunct instructors Dr. Hossein Hassani and Dr. Mansi Ghodsi to act as guest editors for a special issue in the journal of Big Data and Cognitive Computing entitled "Big Data and UN Sustainable Development Goals".

Drs. Hassani and Ghodsi have been adjuncts in the Business and Management Department for several years and have contributed greatly to the learning and development of WVPU students. The current and on-going collaboration on the Special Issue aims to provide a unique set of publications that identify the values and impacts of Big Data on sustainable development in the context of each of the 17 UN SDGs and to contribute valuable insights for further research. Happy reading! 

 

November

Not even a global pandemic is enough to stop our faculty from publishing! Congratulations to Dr. Menbere Workie Tiruneh, Associate Professor of Finance, for his successful publication of “Creating the illicit capital flows network in Europe – Do the net errors and omissions follow an economic pattern?” in esteemed journal International Review of Economics and Finance. Current students and faculty can access the article through WVPU library databases.

 

October

Prof. Dr. Maria Madlberger, Professor of Marketing, is announcing the recent publication of the chapter "Paid Advertising on Social Media: Antecedents and Impacts of General and Specific Attitudes" in Springer’s Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing book series. The co-author of this study is Lisa Kraemmer, a former WVPU student who has graduated with a BA in Management. The chapter is based on Ms. Kraemmer’s bachelor thesis as well as a scholarly paper published and presented at the 15th International Conference on Web Information Systems and Technologies in 2019.

The paper at hand addresses a topical issue in digital marketing, one of Dr. Madlberger’s research interests. The study investigates how social media advertising can positively influence consumers’ intention to purchase the advertised product. It particularly examines two levels of attitude which have not been considered in related studies, i.e., general attitude towards advertising on social media and the specific attitude towards an individual advertisement on social media. The study that is based on a consumer survey reveals that purchase intention of a product advertised on social media is higher if consumers’ attitude on both levels is positive whereby specific attitude plays a larger role. Further, the study identifies perceived enjoyment of the social media platform, advertisement meaningfulness, and brand familiarity as relevant factors that influence attitudes. Hence, it points at the need for a clear conceptual differentiation between both levels of attitudes and allows useful conclusions for companies on the effectiveness of social media advertising. Firms are recommended to exploit the promotional potential of social media advertising as well as address the need for enjoyment and clarity of ads.

Digital marketing is a research area and management practice that stands at the frontiers of modern marketing. The extremely dynamic technological progress calls for constant research and innovation in this area. Students can learn more about digital marketing in various bachelor and master programs, such as the BA in Management with an emphasis in Marketing and the MSc. in Marketing.

WVPU pursues a strong integration of research and teaching in various ways. The publication of exceptional student work in scholarly outlets is a highlight in this context and a win/win situation for the university, faculty and particularly the students who conduct research on an extraordinarily high level. WVPU is proud of students like Lisa Kraemmer who go this extra mile and manage to contribute research that can finally be published in academic outlets.

 

September

Business and management department head Dr. Nikolaos Antonakakis’ recent, collaborative research has been published in several economics and finance journals. We sat down with him recently to discuss his research and its potential implications.

WVPU: Congratulations on your recent publications. The first article I’d like you to tell us about is “The impact of Euro through time: Exchange rate dynamics under different regimes.” For those of us without a background in finance, what are the practical applications of studying currency in this way?

Dr. Antonakakis:  The decision for a common European currency constitutes a landmark in the history of international financial markets. Despite the fact that the adoption of the Euro entails both advantages and challenges, its unequivocal importance in international finance has sparked ‐ among academics, policy makers and other pundits ‐ keen interest in its potential impact on decision making and macroeconomic policy formulation. The relative strength of the Euro against other major currencies is, of course, of particular importance. In effect, studying Euro’s interaction with other currencies should help attain a better understanding of global economic developments. In this respect, our study is largely motivated by research related to currency interdependence and contagion issues, especially, in the light of the introduction of the Euro. We are mainly interested in the position of the Euro as an international currency. That is to say, in its relative strength and its co‐movements with other major currencies, across time.

WVPU: How would you describe contagion to a layperson?

Dr. Antonakakis: In economics and finance, a contagion effect explains the possibility of spread of economic crisis or boom across countries or regions. This phenomenon may occur both at a domestic level as well as at an international level. The failure of Lehman Brothers as well as the collapse of the housing market in the United States is an example of a domestic contagion that led to the global financial crisis in 2008.

WVPU: Another recently published article concerns the energy sector: “Oil and asset classes implied volatilities: Investment strategies and hedging effectiveness.” Tell us a little bit about this study and its target audience.

Dr. Antonakakis: Since the increased financialisation of the oil market over the last 15 years, a growing literature has emerged examining the time-varying relationship and spillover effects among oil and financial markets. Interestingly enough almost all studies examine solely the oil-stock market nexus, without taking other asset classes, such as commodities and metals, into account, that are widely used by investors in their portfolio diversification strategies. Thus, in this study we attempted to capture the intricate relationships among oil and fourteen asset volatilities, which belong to four different asset classes (stocks, commodities, exchange rates and macroeconomic conditions). The main objective of this study was to determine the optimal hedging strategies and optimal portfolio weights for implied volatility portfolios among the above-mentioned assets. As such our study’s target audience is mainly investors that adopt diversification strategies when forming portfolios that combine oil and other asset classes.

WVPU: This study is largely about hedging – its effects, causes, unintended consequences, etc. What is hedging and why should a person who works outside of the finance sector have a basic understanding of what it is?

Dr. Antonakakis: Hedging is a type of investment intended to reduce the risk of adverse price movements in an asset. Most people have engaged in hedging, whether they know it or not. For instance, when you buy life insurance to support your family in the case of your death, this is a hedge. You pay money in monthly sums for the coverage provided by an insurance company.

WVPU: The final article is perhaps the most ‘inside baseball’ of the three, by which I mean it seems to be about research methods for fellow academics who conduct research in this field. The article is titled “Refined Measures of Dynamic Connectedness based on Time-Varying Parameter Vector Autoregressions.” The abstract suggests that it builds upon techniques previously conceived by other academics. Maybe you could tell us a little about this study and, perhaps more broadly about how researchers build upon previous studies.

Dr. Antonakakis: Among the three studies, indeed this is the most technical one and, as such, mostly relevant to researchers conducting research in this field. In particular, the main objective of this study is to improve and enhance an already existing methodology in an attempt to capture more accurately the intricate evolution of interrelationships among financial variables. Building upon a very well established empirical methodology of Diebold and Yılmaz (2009, 2012, 2014) who introduced a variety of connectedness measures, we provide a methodological extension and put our framework into practice by investigating dynamic connectedness measures of the four most traded foreign exchange rates. Comparing the results between the existing approach and our proposed methodology there was suggestive evidence of improvement in the analysis by adopting our new enhanced approach. The process of building upon the existing findings in the literature and try to improve them is a typical process in academia among researchers who engage in lengthy conversations of sorts and rely on others’ findings in an attempt to increase the level of understanding in the field.

You can access Dr. Antonakakis’ recently published articles using the direct links provided in the text above.  

 

August

Launching externally funded research project: Harnessing Social Capital with Community Stakeholders in Infrastructure Projects

Approximately US$80 trillion will be invested in infrastructure projects over the next decades.

However, the track record of this type of project is extremely poor - ineffective community stakeholder engagement often causes excessive delays and budget overruns, project abandonment and infrastructure that is not fit-for-purpose. Together with researchers from University of Sydney, Australia, Dr. Pernille Eskerod will examine how infrastructure project teams can engage more effectively with community stakeholders.

Using stakeholder theory and social capital theory, together with analyses of practices in real-world cases, the research team is going to examine how project teams can build social capital in the form of goodwill towards the infrastructure project with community stakeholders and how they mobilize this to positively impact project performance.

The research project formally launched at Webster Vienna in August 2020 - and one of our master students, Mauro Ortiz, is supporting Dr. Eskerod as a trainee scholarship student from late August.  

An Australian pilot study has already taken place in the realm of the research project. This will be followed by two case studies of infrastructure projects, one in Australia and one in Europe, in order to enable cross-case analyses. The research team at Webster Vienna has to provide the European case study as well as a literature review.

The research project is partially funded by the global professional organization, Project Management Institute (PMI). It is the third time Dr. Eskerod has received an international research grant from PMI's Sponsored Research Program.

 

July

Last year the business and management department welcomed Dr. Ronald Hochreiter, Associate Professor of Finance, to Webster Vienna. Dr. Hochreiter completed his Habilitation in Business Administration at the Vienna University of Economics & Business five years ago, having earned his PhD in Business Informatics from the University of Vienna in 2005. Dr. Hochreiter has written extensively on a variety of research topics related to his studies, from finance to data mining, and over the years has taught courses on data analytics, quantitative and qualitative methods, hedge funds, and management.

Recently, Dr. Hochreiter co-authored an article in the Journal Frontiers in Medicine. The study, “The Supply of Rheumatology Specialist Care in Real Life. Results of a Nationwide Survey and Analysis of Supply and Needs,” looked at the current supply of rheumatologists in Austria to determine if existing supply is meeting patient demand. The co-authors used a questionnaire, which was distributed to more than 200 Austrian rheumatologists and later evaluated by the researchers. The study’s questionnaire hoped to address gaps in previous studies, which often use rheumatologist headcounts in a given region or country. In reality, rheumatologists may spend only part of their working hours treating rheumatic patients, as they may have other responsibilities. For example, physicians devote some of their workday to administrative tasks or caring for non-rheumatic patients. The study’s findings suggest that the current supply is inadequate in Austria, meaning there are more patients than available rheumatologists. “Of those, very few had contracts with the public health insurance providers and operated solely as a practice in an office setting,” Dr. Hochreiter pointed out.

As a data scientist, Dr. Hochreiter was most intimately involved with processing the data acquired from the questionnaire. “This is a great example of the kind of research to which my data science background allows me to contribute. After all, I’m not a medical professional myself.”

WVPU students learn valuable quantitative skills in their statistics, math, and research methods courses during their studies. The broad, liberal arts background of their degrees introduces students to interdisciplinary work, revealing how seemingly disparate fields can collaborate on exciting research, like in this study. “Some of the most promising research I read involves creative cooperation between academics from different backgrounds. I’m happy we introduce this concept of interconnectedness to our students early in their studies.”

Link to study here.

 

June

Dr. Eskerod Contributes to Oxford Research Encyclopedias

Prof. Dr. Pernille Eskerod, Professor of Management, is thrilled that her recent contribution to the Oxford Research Encyclopedia has been published. Her chapter, titled “A Stakeholder Perspective: Origins and Core Concepts,” describes the nascent beginnings of stakeholder management theory as conceived in the mid-20th Century in both Sweden and the United States, and tracks the developments thereof over the ensuing decades. She roots her chapter in the field’s seminal works and authors, describes salient case studies, and points to opportunities for future research.

Stakeholder management theory presumes that the relationships formed and fostered between and among stakeholders are the true drivers of value creation. Dr Eskerod expands upon this in her abstract: “Assuming that the fundamental driver of value creation is stakeholder relationships, managing those relationships well is a prerequisite for obtaining and sustaining success in all businesses, regardless of the success measures applied.”

In the 1960s, stakeholder management was a departure from standard thought about how successful companies prospered. Stakeholder management theory expanded the definition of value creation from one which focused on company profits and financial value for investors to recognize the inherent value, whether quantifiable or not, of everything from longstanding supply chain relationships to the dynamic between management and labor unions.

Webster Vienna students learn about stakeholder management theory at both the undergraduate and graduate level in courses such as Management Theory and Practices, Business Ethics, Change Management, Managerial Policies and Strategies, and Strategy and Competition; and some students even choose to write their respective theses on the topic.

You can read Dr. Eskerod’s entire chapter at the link provided. “I’ve been working on it for years,” she shares, “and I am so happy that it’s finally available for everyone to read!”

 

May

Dr. Ronald Hochreiter, Associate Professor of Finance, is excited to announce that he will be part of a project organized by COST, the European Cooperation in Science & Technology, which has recently received a green light to begin its activities.

The venture, titled FinTech and Artificial Intelligence in Finance – Towards a transparent financial industry, will explore the topic of transparency as it relates to the financial sector’s use of existing and emerging financial technology, also known as FinTech. As the project description states, “globally, more than $100 billion [worth] of investments have been made into FinTech companies and Artificial Intelligence (AI) since 2010, and […] Europe should become a global hub for FinTech, with the economy being able to benefit from the European Single Market.”

The project, also known at COST as an “Action,” intends to bring together academia, industry, as well as public and governmental organizations to look at these challenging issues in an interdisciplinary way. There is hope that, through the Action’s work, the public will also better grasp the consequences (both intended and unintended) of artificial intelligence-enabled FinTech.

The project has been accepted and will run from September 2020 until September 2024. Dr. Hochreiter is looking forward to his involvement. “I will serve on the Management Committee for Austria and hope to take on additional roles, too, as things get underway,” he told us.

Dr. Hochreiter has written extensively on a variety of research topics related to finance and data mining, and over the years has taught courses on data analytics, quantitative and qualitative methods, hedge funds, and management. He often teaches graduate courses at WVPU in our MSc in Finance program, including Institutions and Financial Marketsand Financial Modeling.

Link to description.

 

April

Last year the business and management department welcomed Dr. Ronald Hochreiter, Associate Professor of Finance, to Webster Vienna. Dr. Hochreiter completed his Habilitation in Business Administration at the Vienna University of Economics & Business five years ago, having earned his PhD in Business Informatics from the University of Vienna in 2005. Dr. Hochreiter has written extensively on a variety of research topics related to his studies, from finance to data mining, and over the years has taught courses on data analytics, quantitative and qualitative methods, hedge funds, and management.

Recently, Dr. Hochreiter co-authored an article in the Journal Frontiers in Medicine. The study, “The Supply of Rheumatology Specialist Care in Real Life. Results of a Nationwide Survey and Analysis of Supply and Needs,” looked at the current supply of rheumatologists in Austria to determine if existing supply is meeting patient demand. The co-authors used a questionnaire, which was distributed to more than 200 Austrian rheumatologists and later evaluated by the researchers. The study’s questionnaire hoped to address gaps in previous studies, which often use rheumatologist headcounts in a given region or country. In reality, rheumatologists may spend only part of their working hours treating rheumatic patients, as they may have other responsibilities. For example, physicians devote some of their workday to administrative tasks or caring for non-rheumatic patients. The study’s findings suggest that the current supply is inadequate in Austria, meaning there are more patients than available rheumatologists. “Of those, very few had contracts with the public health insurance providers and operated solely as a practice in an office setting,” Dr. Hochreiter pointed out.

As a data scientist, Dr. Hochreiter was most intimately involved with processing the data acquired from the questionnaire. “This is a great example of the kind of research to which my data science background allows me to contribute. After all, I’m not a medical professional myself.”

WVPU students learn valuable quantitative skills in their statistics, math, and research methods courses during their studies. The broad, liberal arts background of their degrees introduces students to interdisciplinary work, revealing how seemingly disparate fields can collaborate on exciting research, like in this study. “Some of the most promising research I read involves creative cooperation between academics from different backgrounds. I’m happy we introduce this concept of interconnectedness to our students early in their studies.”

Link to study here.

 

February

The Transmission of Euro Area Interest Rate Shocks to Asia -- Do Effects Differ When Nominal Interest Rates are Negative?

Assistant Professor of Economics, Dr. Maria-Teresa Punzi, recently co-authored “The Transmission of Euro Area Interest Rate Shocks to Asia -- Do Effects Differ When Nominal Interest Rates are Negative?” The article was published in Emerging Markets Finance & Trade.

We sat down with her to discuss her research more in-depth and to see if she had any tips for students currently working on their thesis projects.

WVPU: How did this publication come about? How long have you been working on this topic / this project?

MTP: This article was recently published in Emerging Markets Finance and Trade, an empirical journal that covers research in economics, finance, international business, and international relations. This includes studies like ours; it seeks policy implications by comparing the economic and financial circumstances of emerging economies with those of developing or advanced ones.

I have been working on this project for a very long time. Indeed, my co-authors and I navigated five rounds of revisions. It took more than a year from the submission of the first draft to the publication.

This research project’s central thesis was initially presented at a prestigious conference in Tokyo in December 2016. The conference, organized by the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), focused on the implications of ultra-low and/or negative interest rates in Asia. At the conference, I met Dr. Pornpinun Chantapacdepong of the Bank of Thailand, who is one of my coauthors. Once back in Vienna, I also joined forces with Austrian colleagues, including both Dr. Martin Feldkircher of the Austrian National Bank and Prof. Florian Huber of the University of Salzburg.

WVPU: Can you tell us a little more about your article? How would you explain your research to someone who doesn’t have a background on this specific topic?

MTP: The European Central Bank (ECB), the Bank of Japan (BOJ), and several smaller European monetary authorities (e.g., Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden’s respective authorities) have set negative key interest rates. The standard policy would be to set key interest rates at either zero or in positive territory. The ECB was the first major central bank to adopt a so-called negative interest rate policy (NIRP) by lowering its facility deposit rate to −0.1% in June 2014. A further cut in 2016 brought the deposit rate down to −0.4%. Other major central banks, such as the BOJ, have followed by also setting negative key interest rates.

This paper analyses the economic and financial consequences of the ECB’s new monetary policy on the other side of the world. How does the ECB’s establishment of a negative rate affect GDP, inflation, interest rates, and other variables in Asian countries? Is there any effect at all? Do they experience any consequences from this European policy?

It’s hard to explain our results in just a few sentences, but I’ll try. We found that the negative interest rate policy implemented in Europe mainly affected the long-term yield in many Asian countries. This effect suggests that the international portfolio balancing channel was the main transmission channel, as investors had been moving capital as a result of the yield differentials.

WVPU: Which resources do you use to locate reliable data for your research?

MTP: We have used monthly statistics from central banks. Dr. Pornpinun Chantapacdepong, working at the Bank of Thailand, was able to collect the data from Thailand and many other Asian countries. Her data collection contribution was very important.

WVPU: What recommendations do you have for a student who is interested in studying this topic?

MTP: It is important to collect data on a monthly basis because NIRP has only been applied since 2014. It would also be very interesting to study the impact of these negative interest rate policies at the banking level in addition to the macro-financial level.

 

January

Webster Vienna Assistant Professor Presented Research Papers at Prestigious Finance of Climate Change Conference

Assistant Professor of Economics, Dr. Maria-Teresa Punzi, presented one of her research papers at the recent Finance of Climate Change conference in Paris, France. We sat down with her recently after her return to Vienna to discuss her research paper and time at the conference.

WVPU: Tell us a little about how your participation at the conference came about, as well as a bit about the paper you presented.

MTP: The conference organizers invited me to present one of my research papers, which I gladly accepted. The title of the paper that piqued their interest is “Do Banks Price Environmental Risk? Evidence from a Quasi Natural Experiment in China”. Since I first presented it, this paper has received considerable attention. This wasn’t the first time I had been asked to present it. In fact, its reception has been an encouraging sign for the trajectory of my research.

WVPU: Was this paper co-authored? With whom did you work on it?

MTP: Yes, my co-authors are Bihong Huang, from the Asian Development Bank Institute (Japan), and Yu Wu, from Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (Chengdu, China). We’ve found that lending and default rates both increase when the government tightens climate change regulations in order to reduce pollution. We tested this hypothesis with empirical exercises applied to China, where the government responded in 2013 to rampant pollution by implementing a so-called “Action Plan” aimed at prevention. We also found that Chinese banks have increased the lending rate to firms targeted by the Action Plan, and due to the higher cost of borrowing, many firms have defaulted on their obligations.

WVPU: How did the paper you presented compare with others at the conference?

MTP: While many papers at the conference study the impact of natural disasters on the financial sector, this paper instead has focused on the financial implications of environmental regulations. This is a very important message for policymakers because protecting the environment and reducing pollution is fundamental for our current and future life, but some current policies can bring distress in the financial sector.

WVPU: Did anything else stand out about this conference?

MTP: Overall, the conference was super interesting. Speakers came from throughout Europe as well as the United States and Australia. The keynote speaker was Prof. Harrison Hong from Columbia University, and his presentation, in particular, was fascinating. Plus, the event was held in the center of Paris at Palais Brongniart, the historical Paris stock exchange. I enjoyed this conference so much. The organization was amazing, and it was great to share my research with experts in the field.

December

Research Seminar by Dr Workie

On Monday, December 2nd, Webster Vienna's business and management department faculty and graduate students in the MSc in Finance program were treated to a presentation by Dr. Menbere Workie about his current scholarship. The research seminar, entitled „Do Illicit Financial Flows Harm Economic Growth in Europe?“, delved into the magnitude and knock-on effects of illicit financial flows.

Dr. Workie shared that his preliminary results suggest such flows, often associated with the developing world, have become a worldwide concern, partially due to the increasing mobility of goods, services, and capital.

The seminar also touched on the Panama and Paradise Papers, the scope of which reveals the relative size and sophistication of such illicit financial flows in advanced economies. it concluded with questions from the audience and a robust discussion about the topic, including how it relates to other faculty members’ research.

 

November

Webster Vienna Professor Dr. Punzi: Low Inflation Rates Generate Higher Income Inequality

Just because courses have ended for the summer doesn't mean that everything has come to a stop here at Palais Wenkheim.

On Wednesday, July 24th two business and management department graduate students defended their master’s theses. Ms. Debora Koleva, of Bulgaria, presented her thesis about the dynamics of destination image and experience, using the Bulgarian resort town of Sunny Beach as a case study. Ms. Katharina Vodrazka explored how social media ad content affects user engagement on Facebook.

Both students did an exceptional job. Department Head Dr. Nikolaos Antonakakis congratulated them both for “their excellent and thorough work.” Dr. Maria Madlberger, who supervised both theses, was equally pleased. “Both of you gave very well-paced and articulate defense presentations and the theses themselves are well-written,” she told Debora and Katharina.

We wish our graduates all the best in their future endeavors, and we welcome them as the latest to join the ever-growing club of Webster Vienna Private University alumni.

All graduate students at WVPU give a defense presentation as the culmination of their studies here at Palais Wenkheim. It’s an opportunity to share the fruits of their labor with those in the department who have not been involved with their research project, including fellow students, who are encouraged to attend.

 

July

Dr. Punzi visits Malaysia to Launch Project with SEACEN Centre

Following the success of a 2017 research project (pictured above), Dr. Maria Teresa Punzi, Assistant Professor of Economics, was invited again to the SEACEN Centre in Malaysia to lead a new project. SEACEN is an international organization that provides courses and consulting for central banks in Southeast Asia.

Dr. Punzi is developing a project titled "The Distributional Impact of Monetary Policy in the SEACEN Member Economies." The extensive research project will require Dr. Punzi, who is the project leader, and her collaborators to coordinate information from 9 central banks in the region: Cambodia, India, Hong Kong, Mongolia, Taiwan, Thailand, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.

“From this project, we aim to write a book with a case study for each individual country,” Dr. Punzi told us, adding that she is “looking forward to working with colleagues and fellow researchers from all of the countries represented.”

We wish her the best of luck with the project and look forward to reporting when the book is completed. Stay tuned for updates on Dr. Punzi’s project here on our website.

If you’re a current student and looking for an opportunity to work with Dr. Punzi on her other research into income and wealth inequality, you have until the end of July to apply for a training scholarship with her. 

 

April

B&M Welcomes Dr. Hochreiter and His Passion for Political Science & Quantitative Methods

The business and management department welcomed Dr. Ronald Hochreiter, Associate Professor of Finance, to Webster Vienna in early March. Dr. Hochreiter completed his Habilitation in Business Administration at the Vienna University of Economics & Business five years ago, but earned his PhD in Business Informatics from the University of Vienna in 2005. Dr. Hochreiter has written extensively on a variety of research topics related to his studies, from finance to data mining, and over the years has taught courses on data analytics, quantitative and qualitative methods, hedge funds, and management.

We sat down with Dr. Hochreiter recently to welcome him to Webster and to discuss his background in academia, his recent research pursuits, and his plans for the future at Webster.

WVPU: First and foremost, welcome to Webster! We’re really excited that you’re here. You’ve been involved in academia for almost your entire career. Did you grow up wanting to be a professor and professional researcher? If not, how did it happen?

Dr. Hochreiter: I am really happy to join Webster and am looking forward to continuing research and teaching in the fields of algorithmic/computational/quantitative finance, data science and decision science here. Interestingly, when I was younger, I actually never planned a career in academia but rather wanted to work for the European Union as I love the concept of a unified Europe. I studied political science in addition to business informatics and my initial plan was to complete my MA in political science and do my PhD in this area right after completing my MSc in business informatics; however, just a few days before I actually graduated my BI master’s thesis advisor offered me a PhD position at the Department of Statistics.

Initially, I intended to decline the offer, but following a week of careful consideration I accepted. During this period of reflection I realized that the field of operations research and computational management science, i.e. the quantification of decision management under uncertainty, is applicable to many different areas -including political decision taking. My research is biased by this in the direction of hands-on approaches to difficult problems i.e. I love translating complex quantitative methods for a variety of applications.

WVPU: You’ve taught dozens of courses over the years on topics relating to your expertise and academic interests. Is there any one course which stands out as especially near and dear to your heart? Which course at Webster are you most looking forward to teaching?

Dr. Hochreiter: The course I really love is currently entitled “Quantitative Methods in Finance” where I basically teach how to become a Quant in the financial industry – both in hedge funds as well as investment banks. It is a very hands-on lecture that has been developed by me since 2006.

I am also in the process of creating a textbook out of this content which should be ready within the next six to nine months. I am definitely looking forward to integrating many parts of this lecture in two of my upcoming courses at Webster, i.e. "FINC 6290 Mergers & Acquisitions" as well as "FINC 5830 Institutions and Financial Markets".

WVPU: Research has been a salient component to your career. To the extent that you can share it with us, which topics or projects are currently taking up your time? What can we expect to see from you in the near future?

Dr. Hochreiter: I will basically streamline my research to applying machine learning and artificial intelligence methods to various applications in business, finance and economics. It is not easy to get these methods right but if you do get them right you can create a plethora of new insights into various problems.

It is also important to apply these methods with a certain deep knowledge of the respective area under consideration, which in my view was all too often neglected over the last few years when the main idea seemed to be that artificial intelligence would solve all our problems without having to think about the problem area. Rather, quite the opposite is true – if you want to get a useful solution computed by AI methods you really need to understand the problem in detail. This is also the case why so many companies have been frustrated by AI solutions because those simply do not solve problems out of the box.

WVPU: in 2015 you co-authored a paper on improving election night forecasts. What was your contribution to that paper and, perhaps more importantly, have any news networks called you and your co-author to ask for help?

Dr. Hochreiter: This was the pet project of me and my research assistant at WU Vienna, Christoph Waldhauser, who did his MA in Political Science but is one of the best Data Scientists in Austria I know. Unfortunately, we never had enough time to focus on this branch of research besides creating this paper. However, the methods published in the paper have actually been used to improve certain election night forecasts in Austria, but due to the new legislation which prohibits the publication of partial results during the Election Day the methods are not applicable at the moment.

I am currently using the example of Fake News generation by Cambridge Analytica (i.e. the Facebook scandal) to show how psychometric data can and should be integrated into contemporary AI methods to control voting decisions of humans – of course basically to come up with useful counteractions against Fake News. So, my interest in applying complex algorithms to political problems has not lead to new publications yet, but is still alive.

WVPU: What advice do you have to young researchers, particularly in the field of finance?

Dr. Hochreiter: It depends on whether you are interested in pure finance or in my personally preferred field of algorithmic finance. If you are into pure finance, the best strategy is to build a personal network and visit all the important finance conferences which are mainly organized in the US. If you are into algorithmic and quantitative finance, you’ll need to get your hands dirty by applying various methods to different types of data sets and accomplish to fulfill the painstakingly tedious task to find alpha in the market as opposed to doing beautiful mathematical finance proofs. There’s plenty of opportunity for different kinds of research.

 

March

The business and management department’s head Dr. Nikolaos Antonakakis has been invited to guest edit a special issue of the journal Sustainability, due out later this year. We sat down with Dr. Antonakakis to discuss the special issue’s theme: the relationship between energy, consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and economic growth.


WVPU: Please tell us a little bit more about the special issue you will be editing.

Dr. Antonakakis: The increasing threat of global warming and climate change has been a major, worldwide, ongoing concern for more than two decades. Global warming is being caused by the ever-increasing concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG), as well as other anthropogenic activities. Key factors that lead to increased GHG emissions are, among others, economic activity and energy usage. This special issue of Sustainability will gather articles which focus on these dynamic relationships.

WVPU: As an econometrician, how do you see the intersection of energy consumption and economic growth?

Dr. Antonakakis: The link among energy consumption, emissions, and economic growth has received considerable attention over the years from both policy makers and researchers, as the achievement of both environmental sustainability and sustainable development have gradually become major global concerns. The interest in this field has been further escalated due to the rather intricate character of this particular nexus, both from a theoretical and an empirical perspective. I am particularly interested in how econometric techniques could perhaps reveal causalities and relationships which, to the naked eye, so to speak, are less self-evident.

WVPU: Does existing literature guide research in any particular direction?

Dr. Antonakakis: The results of the existing literature are still contested, potentially due to differences in time-periods and country-data used by researchers, varying econometric approaches, the omitted variable bias, and many other reasons. In an ideal world, this special issue’s articles could help us see where arguments coalesce and how they diverge.

WVPU: What has your own research suggested with regard to the relationships between and among energy, consumption, emissions, and growth?

Dr. Antonakakis: According to the findings of a recent co-authored study of mine entitled “Energy consumption, CO2 emissions, and economic growth: An ethical dilemma” published in the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews journal, high levels of economic growth in the long run can only be achieved by the consumption of the most pollutant energy resources, including oil, coal and gas. Most surprisingly, renewable energy sources appear to have no influence on economic growth in the long-run. This would seem to suggest that meeting both objectives - of sustainable economic growth and sustainable environmental quality – may not be possible (at least simultaneously).

WVPU: Can researchers still submit their manuscripts, should they happen to come across this article?

Dr. Antonakakis: Absolutely! The deadline for manuscript submissions is on May 31, 2019. They can read about the special issue and submit their manuscript online. I’m looking forward to reading them.

 

January

In November the business and management department’s own Dr. Maria-Teresa Punzi traveled to Brussels to give an invited talk at the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN) of the European Commission. Dr. Plamen Nikolov invited her to give the talk and present one of her recent research papers.

WVPU: Was it hard to decide which facets of your research you would present at the European Commission?

Dr. Punzi: Initially, I wanted to present about household heterogeneity, which is a recurrent theme in my research, but at the last moment I decided to change course and present my work on climate change policy and environmental risk. I think that I was smart to trust my instincts, as those present at the European Commission seemed to enjoy the topic.

WVPU: Please tell us a little bit more about your presentation.

Dr. Punzi: To be more specific, I explained the dynamics of business cycle fluctuation by using a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model which incorporates climate change policy. This environmental policy is introduced in the model by assuming that the government limits the use of polluting inputs during the production process. This phenomenon is usually known as cap-and-trade. My model’s simulation used data from the United States.
The results suggest that this type of climate change policy (cap-and-trade) reduces the positive effect that a technology shock would have in the economy. Moreover, some environmental policies could lead to defaults as cap-and-trade negatively affects the firms’ profitability and liquidity, decreasing the chance to repay back the loans acquired to finance the new production.

WVPU: Was that all you presented in your talk?

Dr. Punzi: I also presented the results of a two-sectors model case, i.e. a green sector and a brown sector. The two sectors differ in terms of their pollution inputs: the green sector uses clean and renewable energy, while the brown sector use fossil fuel energy. The climate change policy applied only to brown firms, and the model predicts that default rates can increase for both sectors. Indeed, the environmental policy spill over to the green sector through the banking system. Banks charge higher lending rates to all firms in order to avoid balance sheet distress, and higher lending rates increase the probability of default.

WVPU: Wow. That’s fascinating. What was your takeaway from a policy point of view?

Dr. Punzi: I discussed the role of monetary and macro-prudential policies. I suggested that there should be a more active role from policy makers and financial regulators in order to take into account the environmental risk to which the economy is exposed during the transition period of the implementation of climate change policies.

Many economists attended my talk, even researchers working at the Climate Change Division. These people are not focusing on business and financial cycle, but they understood the problem in terms of banking default and financial stability.

WVPU: Some may say that your research suggests cap and trade or other environmental policies could have short term negative effects on the banking industry or the economy as a whole. How do you respond to that?

Dr. Punzi: Overall, my research is not meant to discourage policy makers from implementing effective climate change policy. We all want clean air, less pollution and a better environment, but in the transition period the economy need better policies to avoid financial instability. Probably central banks could play a better role.

December

A recent collaboration between the business and management department’s own Dr. Maria Madlberger and one of our graduate students, Mauro Ortiz Bustamante, culminated in a conference publication. Mr. Ortiz Bustamante’s thesis on video advertising, “Commenting, Liking, Sharing: Drivers of Intention to Provide User Response to Video Advertisements in Social Media”, was supervised by Dr. Madlberger and featured at the International Association for Development of the Information Society’s 17th International Conference on WWW/Internet in Budapest. We sat down with Dr. Madlberger to discuss her academic pursuits in marketing, her collaboration with Mr. Ortiz Bustamante, and the strong interest with which students approach her about her research.

 

WVPU: Could you please tell us about your recent article publication on video marketing?

Dr. Madlberger:

The Internet offers an increasing variety of communication med

iums which go far beyond traditional mass communication. In recent years, social media in particular has transformed communication among individuals, but also between companies and their target audiences. The numerous ways by which Internet users can now create user-generated content and social user responses, such as liking, sharing, commenting, or uploading content has led to a paradigm shift in digital marketing. Whereas classical communication is restricted to companies’ own communication or paid advertising, the Internet offers a new type of communication – earned media.

This paper on video marketing addresses its potential as a form of earned media. Its goal is the investigation of factors which drive positive user responses – including likes, shares, and comments – to video advertisements on social media. We identified different Internet users’ experiences – absorption, credibility, perceived length, and perceived usefulness – as factors which influence a viewer’s attitude about a video ad as well as that viewer’s response intention. While the paper’s findings support the majority of the hypotheses, the impact of credibility could not be demonstrated. With this study we were among the first who specifically investigated impact factors which are relevant in video marketing and explicitly address users’ intention to provide user responses on social media.

WVPU: You have involved a Webster Vienna student in this research. Could you tell us about that?

Dr. Madlberger:

The article was a collaboration with MSc in Marketing graduate student Mauro Ortiz Bustamante. He was writing his bachelor thesis under my supervision. Mauro’s approach to the development of the research model and the research instrument – an online questionnaire for a quantitative survey – was excellent, so I learned early on in our collaboration of his potential as an academic researcher. After the finalization of his bachelor thesis, we revised his thesis, collected more data, and submitted it to the WWW/Internet conference where it was accepted for publication.

I am personally very happy and proud that Webster Vienna educates students who conduct research at such a high level that the results can be published academically. This project has turned out to be a true integration of teaching and research. I am particularly glad to see the benefit of this project for Mauro, who gained valuable experience and professional research skills and has made it to his first publication record already after finishing his bachelor studies. Mauro’s passion and determination in this project was impressive and a truly joyful experience.

I am very grateful to Mauro for the productive and delightful cooperation. This successful project makes me aim to involve students in my future research as well.

WVPU: Your research is often related to digital marketing and e-commerce. Why are you interested in this particular area within marketing?

Dr. Madlberger:

My research interests have always been driven by academic relevance and practical utility. A constant factor in my research is the role of information systems in the context of marketing management. I am convinced that an interdisciplinary view that integrates marketing with the information systems context is necessary to provide useful answers to up-to-date marketing concerns and challenges.

Within marketing, digitization and e-commerce enable and require innovative strategies in order to fulfill customer expectations, maximize efficiency, and sustain competitiveness. Nowadays, e-commerce goes far beyond online selling and advertising; it covers electronic support of all marketing instruments and activities including marketing research and business models.

Turning again to the integration of teaching and research, I also see the extraordinary interest of students in the field of digital marketing. On the one hand, students are very Internet-savvy digital natives, on the other hand, they understand the increasing demand for competence in digital marketing management for their professional careers. This is not only reflected in a high student engagement in the classroom, but also in their large demand for digital marketing-related bachelor and master theses. Thus, a synergy of my research in the digitization in marketing is the high popularity of my research interests among students.

 

WVPU: Where do you think your research on the topic of your recent article will go next? Which questions are you working on?

Dr. Madlberger:

Research on social media is in a very early stage as the number of applications and communication features is growing more quickly than the academic understanding of their consequences. One current issue in social media marketing is influencer marketing where I am involved in several projects, partly in collaboration with Webster Vienna graduate students. In this research stream, we are investigating attributes and attitudes towards influencers – Internet users with many followers who make product recommendations – and their impact on consumer behavior. I look forward to seeing some projects being finalized soon and collaborating with some of the involved students on future publications.

 

November

Last month, Dr. Maria-Teresa Punzi took part in the 3rd Vietnam Symposium in Banking and Finance (VSBF) in Hue city, Vietnam. In addition to her role as a speaker, she also served as a session chair and discussant.

Webster: Tell us a little bit about the session you chaired at the conference.

Dr. Punzi: I chaired a special session on macro-financial linkages. In that session, academics from the University of Rennes 1 (France), IPAG Business School (France), Australian Catholic University (Australia), Beijing Normal University (China), Boston University (United States) and Hue University (Vietnam) presented their research projects on topics related to macro-financial linkages.

I served as the discussant for a paper by Professor Yougui Wang from Beijing Normal University on “Alternative Decomposition of Aggregate Demand: What Underlies the Secular Stagnation?” Dr. Wang’s paper offers a large overview of stock-flow consistency models, which I believe will become much more prevalent in the future for explaining economic fluctuations. I gave my comments to the authors, who hopefully found my insights constructive.

 

Webster: You also served as a speaker at the conference. Could you tell us about the paper that you presented?

Dr. Punzi: I presented my research paper on “The Impact of Uncertainty on the Macro-Financial Linkage with International Financial Exposure.” This paper develops a two-country dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model to show how different uncertainty indexes can negatively affect the business and financial cycle where banks can borrow in their home country and also abroad. International financial exposure is included in the model by allowing domestic banks to buy foreign assets in a second market.

Saliently, this paper shows that macro-prudential policies are very effective in leaning against the credit cycle when monetary policy shocks hit the economy, but they become ineffective when the economic agents fear increasing monetary policy uncertainty, i.e. they expect an increase in the future interest rate. This is an important message for policy makers when setting macro-prudential policy. It is very important to understand the nature of shocks.

 

Webster: What were your takeaways from the conference, Dr. Punzi?

Dr. Punzi: I really enjoyed the conference. There were speakers from Asia, Australia, Japan, Europe and the United States. I feel I have learned so much, shared my knowledge with many international professors, and gained many insights which will improve my current research. Most importantly, I have developed new ideas for future research. It was a long trip but totally worth it. 

 

October

The business and management department’s own Dr. Pernille Eskerod’s research on the hospitality sector, “Motivations for and Comparisons of Green Certificates within the Hotel Industry”, was recently published in the Universal Journal of Management. We sat down with her to discuss her latest article and her passion for eco-friendliness in the hospitality sector.

WVPU: Could you please tell us about your most recent article publication?

Dr. Eskerod: A blooming hotel industry has the downside of an increased negative environmental impact. At the same time, many hotel guests and employees have become conscious of eco-friendliness and green practices. A hotel that has obtained one or more green certificates promises green services, products, and operations, and possesses thereby (potentially) important strategic assets, when it comes to attracting customers and employees. As more than 100 different certifications are offered within the hotel industry, including Green Globe and Green Key, the choice of certificate(s) is a strategic choice for hotel management.

Both strategy and implementation are topics which are close to my heart, and I have done considerable research on both during my academic career. In this paper, we tried to determine similarities and differences among green certifications as well as analyze the presence of green certificates in different regions, such as southeast Europe. Even though many of the certifications are offered internationally, we identified clear differences in dissemination across regions. In addition to region, our analysis showed that belonging to a hotel chain/brand seems to be highly influential on the choice of certificate(s).

WVPU: You have involved other members of the Webster Vienna community in this research. Could you tell us about that?

Dr. Eskerod: The article was a collaboration with a Webster Vienna MBA student, Ms. Jovana Djuric, whose merit-based trainee scholarship allowed her to support me in data collection and writing up the text. We went to Serbia and Denmark to do interviews with hotel representatives, and this was very interesting and a lot of fun. In addition, we presented a former version of the article at a conference in Belgrade, Serbia, in Fall 2017.

In addition, an adjunct professor in the Business and Management Department, Mr. Peter Sunley, made two interviews on behalf of us at hotels in Thailand and in the Maldives. We exchanged ideas with him on the interview guide; this added value to our research, and it was a pleasure to work with him.

I am happy with and thankful for both Jovana and Peter’s cooperation - and will definitely aim to involve students and adjunct faculty in my future research as well.

WVPU: You seem to return to this topic often. What about the hospitality and hotel industries in particular do you find so interesting?

Dr. Eskerod: The hospitality industry is one of the world’s largest and most important industries – as well as an industry that is still developing rapidly. It's more than evident that the extent of travels, international conferences and overnight stays have increased significantly and will continue to rise. At the same time, it is a global industry. I think this fits well to Webster. I therefore not only benefit from my research in publications, but also as inputs for my teaching as all students can relate to this industry.

WVPU: Where do you think your research on this topic will go next? Which questions are you working on?

Dr. Eskerod: I am currently writing a conference paper with an MBA alumni, Ms. Viktoriya Onopriyenko, for an upcoming conference in Budapest. Viktoriya wrote about impacts of green certifications on brand image, operational efficiency and customer attraction capabilities in her master thesis, and at an interview where I also participated we came across a new trend within hotels, i.e. beekeeping in hotel backyards and rooftops. We thought that this was a nice, symbolic and heart-touching activity and decided to investigate it further. Therefore we are working on a paper called The Flowers and the Bees – Engaging Hotel Guests in Sustainable Tourism. I am looking forward to present it for the Webster Community at a later stage.

 

September

Prof. Dr. Maria Punzi, who recently joined the business and management department, has been published in Macroeconomics Dynamics (Elsevier) and in the Handbook of Green Finance: Energy Security and Sustainable Development (Springer). She has also been invited to give a talk on borrowing heterogeneity at the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN) of the European Commission this November. We asked her about her recent research endeavors.

WVPU: Could you tell us about your most recent journal publications and your research’s focus?

Dr. Punzi: My recent research on the relationship between unconventional monetary policy and international housing markets was a joint project with Florian Huber from Vienna University of Economics and Business. A primary focus of my research at the moment is Green Finance. One of my recent articles, the “Role of bank lending in financing green projects: a DSGE approach” will be published as a chapter of the Handbook of Green Finance: Energy Security and Sustainable Development (Springer), sponsored by the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) in Tokyo, Japan. I presented this research last January in Kuala Lumpur at the Conference on Energy Security sponsored by the Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development (JSC).

WVPU: Some of your research reflects your interest in how monetary policies affect housing markets. Can you tell us a little more about that?

Dr. Punzi: A recent research paper of mine (“International housing markets, unconventional monetary policy and the zero lower bound”) analyzes the relationship between unconventional monetary policy, measured through shadow interest rates, and housing markets in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and the Euro Area using a set of time-varying parameter VAR models. The findings suggest that the monetary policy transmission mechanism to the housing market has not changed with the implementation of quantitative easing or forward guidance for most of the economies considered. A counterfactual exercise provides some evidence that unconventional monetary policy has been particularly successful in dampening the consequences of the financial crisis on housing markets in the United States, while the effects are more muted in the remaining countries considered.

WVPU: What do you plan to discuss when you speak this November at the European Commission?

Dr. Punzi: I been invited to give a talk on Borrowing Heterogeneity at the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN) of the European Commission. I plan to explain the role of different types of borrowing in the mortgage market in amplifying economic and financial fluctuations.

 

August

Webster Vienna students and Prof. Madlberger investigate omni-channel shopping behavior

This past spring semester, undergraduate Management students and Prof. Dr. Maria Madlberger conducted a study about consumer behavior in one of the latest marketing trends, namely omni-channel business.

Since the emergence of electronic commerce and digital marketing, more and more companies have begun to recognize the importance of offering consumers online channels of distribution and communication in addition to retail stores and classical mass media. Over the course of the last few years, many retailers have opened online shops and become multi-channel retailers this way; however, nowadays consumers expect more than just a choice between physical and online stores. Young consumers, so-called digital natives, are particularly likely to continuously switch between online and offline channels while shopping. They want to have a shopping experience where online and offline marketing stimuli, so-called touchpoints, are seamlessly integrated.

A comprehensive omni-channel marketing experience requires consumers to actively participate. For example, if a retail store wants to offer its customers relevant information online while they are in the store, customers would have to activate their GPS or Bluetooth functions on their smart phones.

Students in Dr. Madlberger’s Marketing Research course investigated variables that influence consumers’ omni-channel shopping behavior and willingness to meet the technical prerequisites for omni-channel marketing activities. The sample was comprised of students residing in Austria who were intensive Internet and mobile phone users. This also allowed for the education level of the sample to be standardized. In the survey, study participants were shown two omni-channel marketing scenarios. Scenario 1 was a cross-channel scenario where an online coupon offered in the retail store can be accessed and redeemed via a mobile phone. Scenario 2 is a same-channel scenario; here, the coupon was redeemable via a mobile phone during a mobile purchase. For the cross-channel scenario, respondents were asked about their intention to activate GPS or Bluetooth to make the coupon work. For the same-channel scenario, they had to indicate their intention to download an app to make the coupon work.

The results show that the acceptance among the surveyed students for both marketing stimuli is high. Almost 55% are at least willing to turn on GPS/Bluetooth to use the coupon in the cross-channel scenario. In the same-channel scenario, around 44% are at least willing to install the app to access the coupon.

In both scenarios, attitude towards the marketing stimulus has a strong and significant impact on behavioral intention. However, factors that influence attitude differ. In the cross-channel scenario, the perceived service performance value, the emotional value, and the perceived brand integration positively influence attitude whereas convenience value does not show a significant impact. In the same-channel scenario, only service performance value and emotional value significantly influence the attitude. The study did not find any significant differences between men and women in respect of attitude and behavioral intention.

The results of the study will be prepared for academic publication.

 

July

During the spring semester, the business and management department hosted St. Louis adjunct instructor Dr. Michael McKinney, the recipient of the Sverdrup Fellowship. The Sverdrup Fellowship asks awardees to work on academic research while at the host campus. Dr. McKinney, who is familiar with how support groups for small business start-ups function in his native St. Louis, teamed up with Webster Vienna’s own Dr. Nada Mumdziev to research how similar groups function in Vienna. We had the opportunity to ask them some questions about their ongoing research together before Dr. McKinney jetted back to the United States in early May.

 

Webster Vienna: Dr. Mumdziev, could you briefly tell us about your research with Dr. McKinney?

Dr. Mumdziev: Upon Dr. Kinney´s arrival in Vienna, we discussed our research interests and experience and quickly realized that they overlap, so we discussed current issues in entrepreneurship and possible research topics, and decided to start the research project, which is focused on understanding the outcomes of mentoring sessions between experienced business practitioners and aspiring entrepreneurs.

 

Webster Vienna: Dr. McKinney, how did you first become interested in entrepreneurship and the resources that exist for young or new entrepreneurs?

Dr. McKinney: I have many years of experience in teaching entrepreneurship, and I have worked for many years as a mentor in St.Louis - helping young entrepreneurs to advance their business plans. We had some very successful young firms as a result of this process. This experience increased my interest in understanding how some aspects of the mentoring process, such as the creation of personal relationships between the mentor and the mentee, as well as their individual perception of the whole process, can influence the results of mentoring.

 

Webster Vienna: Dr. Mumdziev, how would you explain your research to someone who doesn’t have a background in entrepreneurship?

Dr. Mumdziev: Entrepreneurship is a wide area and includes a lot of different elements; therefore, researching entrepreneurship can include many different disciplines. In my research, I am interested in the external environment and the entrepreneurship ecosystem (both institutions and individuals), and how they may affect market success or emergence of new entrepreneurial ventures. I have been working on two projects. In the first project I investigated crowdinvesting, which is a way of collecting funds for young businesses through a crowdinvesting platform. I wanted to learn what influences crowdinvestors may have on the funded start-up and what kind of social capital exists within that network.

The second project investigated whether and how regional industrial clusters in Austria - such as food, furniture, or automotive - affect the emergence of new start-ups. This research led to some very interesting results; however, due to the structure of cluster organizations and their strategic goals, a direct link with the emergence of a new start-up in the cluster’s region could not be established. Clusters seem to be highly important for startup firms, which find themselves in a later development phase and already have a proven business model and tested product. Early business ventures, however, benefit much less, and clusters are rarely a trigger for their emergence.

 

Webster Vienna: Dr. McKinney, what were your takeaways from the entrepreneurship and/or start-up scene here in Vienna? Is it comparable to St. Louis?

Dr. McKinney: Vienna has a very developed entrepreneurship scene. There are a lot of support programs and grants offered in Vienna, and a lot is being done by the local government to establish Vienna as a regional entrepreneurship hub. In comparison to St. Louis, however, the investor community in general and the business angel community in particular is less developed, but that seems to be characteristic of not only the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Vienna, but also of many other European countries. There is a lack of venture capital, but I am sure that it will change in the future. Conversely, Vienna is investing a lot in R&D and tech startups, which is a great way to go. I learned about some great and innovative incubator programs and they seem to have great success in supporting the emergence of successful start-ups.

 

Webster Vienna: You have been studying the start-up environment in Vienna for a while. How has it changed? How do you envision that it will change in the future?

Dr. Mumdziev: I agree with the observations of Dr. Mckinney regarding some characteristics and issues of the ecosystem In Vienna. In addition to that, I think that entrepreneurship education is one of the important enabling factors which would increase entrepreneurial activity and additionally encourage those who are young and innovative to take the entrepreneurial path. There are few very good and successful extra-curricular entrepreneurship programs. For instance, Webster Vienna offers the Entrepreneurship Certificate program. There is also the Entrepreneurship Avenue program which connects several universities in Vienna and takes place once a year. You also have a number of good university-related incubators.

Other than that, I think that Vienna is on a great path to become an important hub of the region, as many governmental and private programs and initiatives contribute to the success and work together. Access to funding should also improve in the future. For example, Austria currently has one of the best legal frameworks for crowdinvesting, which is already a great step forward. I think that the perception of entrepreneurship within society is also changing. All of that will certainly result in an increase of both local and international start-ups in Vienna and in a vibrant entrepreneurial scene. So, I am sure that Vienna will be an important “entrepreneurship destination” in the future.

 

May 

Webster Vienna Professor’s Book Out Now

Recently, business and management department’s own Dr. Menbere Workie Tiruneh’s book Overshooting the Maastricht Criteria: External Imbalances and Income Convergence in the European Union was made available for purchase by Nova Science Publishers in New York. We sat down with Dr. Workie to discuss his research on the European Union and the Great Recession.

 

Webster Vienna: How did the economic underpinnings of the European Union become a central part of your academic research? What do you find so interesting about it?

Dr. Workie: A simple answer would be that I obtained my graduate and doctorate studies in Europe and have been living in Europe for a long time. This wouldn’t be enough to develop a research interest though. I have witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall as well as the transformation of Europe with remarkable achievements, such as the creation of the European Union and the Economic and Monetary Union. In my understanding this was both a political achievement that has significantly reduced regional tensions as well as an economic one in response to the globalization of the world economy. It was particularly very interesting to observe and investigate the challenges of Central and Eastern European countries (former communist countries) to adopt policies in order to get the letter of invitation to join the European Union. In my view most of these countries would have been far less developed by now without the incentives to join the EU. Regional, cohesion and structural funds have also played a pivotal role in reducing income disparities across countries. Nevertheless, regional disparity within countries remains a persistent policy challenge for most of the countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

Webster Vienna: Can you tell us a little more about your book project? How would you explain your research to someone who doesn’t have a background in economic policy?

Dr. Workie: I guess every rational person understands what it takes to have bank loans which far exceed someone’s income. This holds true for a government as well: if a government spends more than its income, then sooner or later this would backfire. The bad thing about over borrowing is that interest rates are an increasing function of the level of debt. The higher the level of debt, the higher the interest rates. We have witnessed this numerous times in history. In this respect, my book discusses theoretical frameworks of global imbalances as well as systematically evaluates paradigm shifts in these imbalances in the past four decades or so. It also brings state-of-the- art empirical explorations on determinants of external imbalances with particular emphasis on optimal size of public debt in the European Union. The book also discusses policy dilemmas in an attempt to reduce future possible challenges for the European Union.

Webster Vienna: What is your verdict about the direction of economic policy and the European Union? Are you more hopeful or more doubtful about the future?

Dr. Workie: Europe has been at peace for a fairly sustainable period, which is considered as one of the outcomes of European integration. I would leave this for political scientists to offer more qualified assessments. On the economic front European economies have undoubtedly benefited from free movement of goods and services as well as investments in the last two decades. There was undeniable achievement in real income convergence, where poorer members of the European Union having significantly higher real income per capita growth for the past two decades or so. There are also challenges about the vulnerability of the current European arrangement as was disclosed during the Great Recession. Some countries are falling behind in terms of undertaking structural reforms to be more resilient when difficult times come. This of course created tensions in the European Union and there are various policies that have been discussed as how to reduce possible future challenges. A lot has been achieved about regulation of the financial system including the banking industry. There are still pending issues such as migration and coping with the consequences of Brexit. In my view there are not too many better options for the EU in spite of numerous challenges to the current arrangement. I am cautiously optimistic about the future of the European Union.

Webster Vienna: Which resources do you use to locate reliable data for your research?

Dr. Workie: I regularly use the Eurostat database, the Ameco database of the European Commission, OECD database, the World Bank database, the World Economic Outlook compiled by the International Monetary Fund, the Penn World Tables, the Groningen database, etc.

Webster Vienna: What recommendations do you have for a student who is interested in studying the economics of the European Union?

Dr. Workie: The EU is a very interesting and dynamic political, social and economic environment that is still in the making and there are plenty of issues that emerge and are tackled using a sort of “trial and error” approach. There are numerous success stories but also challenges and open issues subject to research. The EU is also the second largest economy in the world with job opportunities and I would encourage both our European and international students to focus their research on European issues, European companies, industries and institutions.

Book Description (from Nova):
While mainstream economists were convinced they had solved the business cycle phenomena of macroeconomic policy making, the Great Recession has once again underscored the verdict of history, where every boom has almost always been accompanied by a bust and recession. The book discusses theoretical controversies and state-of-the art empirical studies on the link between external imbalances and real income convergence in the European Union. The book shows successful real income convergence across the European Union on the country level and pinpoints persistent regional disparities within countries in most of the member states of the European Union. The book addresses broader aspects of external imbalances and their key determinants and provides fresh empirical and exploratory evidence on paradigm shifts in the past several decades. This book also empirically estimates both the causality between public debt and economic growth as well as the optimum level of public debt for EU member states. Additionally, the book discusses the link between illicit capital flows and external imbalances in the European Union. Overall, the book critically investigates both theoretical frameworks of global imbalances and systematically evaluates milestones and paradigm shifts in global imbalances; it also offers new empirical results based on the panel data of both “old” and “new” EU member states in the past several decades. Finally, the book addresses a number of policy challenges, disputes and controversies in the European Union in terms of solving the ongoing external imbalances and harmonizing policies to prevent future challenges. (Nova)

  

April 

Industry Clusters: Start-Up Catalyst?

Do industry clusters have a positive effect on the emergence of new start-ups in Austria? Our Dr. Nada Mumdziev investigates.

A business cluster is a regional concentration of interrelated businesses, suppliers, and associated institutions in a particular field, and they can be socio-economic engines of competitiveness and growth. Clusters are known to have positive effects on businesses’ competitiveness and performance because they can promote knowledge spill-overs, information-sharing, access to customers and partners, a favorable business environment, and stronger competition.

However, one important question emerges: Can clusters affect the emergence of new start-ups and contribute to their survival and success?

A research project conducted by Dr. Nada Mumdziev at Webster Vienna in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Pablo Collazzo (WU Vienna) addressed this important question. The empirical data was collected in Austria through extensive interviews with 23 representatives of Austrian clusters and regional incubators.

Takeaways from the Research

Dr. Mumdziev and Dr. Collazzo’s research on local clusters found that clusters have a different purpose in each phase of a start-up. The phases below are based upon the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor framework.

Start-up Conception Phase: Clusters can be a valuable source of insider information about market needs, can open up niches of specialization, and even present new market opportunities; however, clusters play only a minor role in this phase. Our empirical evidence indicates that clusters rarely see start-up firms emerging within their structures. This is primarily because cluster programs and activities focus on supporting established businesses, and they tend to lack infrastructure and resources to work with entrepreneurs during the conceptual phase.

New Firm Phase: In this young phase, from a company’s foundation until about the third year, clusters can bring tremendous value. Networking opportunities, access to customers and partners, as well as contacts to established market players are just some of the benefits pointed out by the interviewees. Clusters can, and should, play an important role in this phase and help young companies survive.

Established Firm Phase: The core function of clusters is to support established businesses’ growth and competitiveness. Access to customers and partners; fostering of a competitive climate, and coordination of innovation projects are just some of the activities. It seems that the effect of clusters is the strongest when start-ups reach this stage. However, experts point to group-think, lack of the “outside-of-the-cluster” perspective and lack of agility, as some of the pitfalls. This can reflect negatively on competitiveness and innovativeness of businesses.

Conclusion

So, how could a cluster’s potential be best harnessed to help start-ups emerge?

A straightforward solution would be to build up resources and capabilities of cluster organizations very similar to incubators, which are companies which help new startups to develop. This would be an unnecessary duplication of efforts, though. Cluster organizations could, however, develop much closer collaborations with existing incubators. As suggested by the collected data, a way of fostering new start-up creation could be virtual clusters, which stretch beyond boundaries of a single cluster and connect firms across different clusters, as well as incubators and universities within a network’s joint projects. In this way, incubators, often the initial physical location for many start-ups, would retain their important role, but would get access to information and opportunities inherent within clusters. The agility of a start-up paired with a larger company could potentially add value, so together it would be a win-win situation.

 

March

Webster Research Featured in Acclaimed German Novel Die Hauptstadt

Recently, business and management department head Dr. Nikolaos Antonakakis’ research on the impact of economic austerity on suicide rates was referenced in the much-acclaimed German language novel Die Hauptstadt, written by Vienna-native Robert Menasse, and winner of the German Book Prize (Deutscher Buchpreis) in 2017.

Webster Vienna: How did you find out that your research had been referenced?

Dr. Antonakakis: A colleague contacted me to tell me she had been reading the novel in her free time when she stumbled upon the reference. Even though my name isn’t mentioned explicitly, she could tell from the context that the Webster Vienna Private University study in question was research I had conducted in collaboration with Prof. Alan Collins (Nottingham Trent University and University of Portsmouth) about suicide rates.

Webster Vienna: Can you tell us a little more about the research that was mentioned in the novel?

Dr. Antonakakis: Following the austerity measures introduced in Greece and other southern Eurozone countries, there was a remarkable increase in suicide rates in those countries, which motivated us to conduct scientific research on the relationship between fiscal austerity and suicide mortality in these countries. Together with my co-author, Prof. Alan Collins, we published two studies in that area, one focusing in on Greece and the second including Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain. After controlling for several common socioeconomic determinants of suicide mortality, such as unemployment, income, fertility rates, divorce rates and alcohol consumption, we found the impact of fiscal austerity on suicide mortality to be gender-, age- and time-specific, and robust to alternative proxies of fiscal austerity. In particular, we found fiscal austerity to be associated with increased suicides rates on the male population in the 65-89 age group, while the female population seemed to be resilient to fiscal austerity measures.

Webster Vienna: Your research was picked up by several media outlets upon its release. Why do you think that happened?

Dr. Antonakakis: The results of our research generated a lot of media attention because of the substantial implications for policymakers and health agencies. Our research highlighted the health costs of austerity, in contrast to the well-established economic costs, and also offered some guidance on the demographic targeting of suicide prevention measures. Our research also showed that improving labor market institutions can help mitigate the negative effects of fiscal austerity on suicide mortality. Overall, our results advocated a paradigm shift in political economy to set a new course of policy development where markets and profits are explicitly means to human ends and not the other way around. That is, placing health before wealth.

Webster Vienna: Where in the novel is your study mentioned?

Dr. Antonakakis: You can find the reference to Webster Vienna & my research on pages 255-256 of Die Hauptstadt. Mr. Menasse’s novel is a satirical commentary about the workings of the European Union, and in this particular scene a bureaucrat divulges how he has lost confidence in his work after seeing the study. You can purchase the book online to read more.

You can read Dr. Antonakakis’ research yourself:

The impact of fiscal austerity on suicide: On the empirics of a modern Greek tragedy

Abstract:

Suicide rates in Greece (and other European countries) have been on a remarkable upward trend following the global recession of 2008 and the European sovereign debt crisis of 2009. However, recent investigations of the impact on Greek suicide rates from the 2008 financial crisis have restricted themselves to simple descriptive or correlation analyses. Controlling for various socio–economic effects, this study presents a statistically robust model to explain the influence on realized suicidality of the application of fiscal austerity measures and variations in macroeconomic performance over the period 1968–2011. The responsiveness of suicide to levels of fiscal austerity is established as a means of providing policy guidance on the extent of suicide behavior associated with different fiscal austerity measures. The results suggest (i) significant age and gender specificity in these effects on suicide rates and that (ii) remittances have suicide-reducing effects on the youth and female population. These empirical regularities potentially offer some guidance on the demographic targeting of suicide prevention measures and the case for ‘economic’ migration.

The impact of fiscal austerity on suicide mortality: Evidence across the ‘Eurozone periphery’

Abstract:

While linkages between some macroeconomic phenomena and suicides in some countries have been explored, only two studies, hitherto, have established a causal relationship between fiscal austerity and suicide, albeit in a single country. The aim of this study is to provide the first systematic multiple–country evidence of a causal relationship of fiscal austerity on time–, gender–, and age–specific suicide mortality across five Eurozone peripheral countries, namely Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain over the period 1968–2012, while controlling for various socioeconomic differences. The impact of fiscal adjustments is found to be gender–, age– and time–specific. Specifically, fiscal austerity has short–, medium– and long–run suicide increasing effects on the male population in the 65–89 age group. A 1% reduction in government spending is associated with a 1.38%, 2.42% and 3.32% increase in the short–, medium– and long–run, respectively, of male suicides rates in the 65–89 age group in the Eurozone periphery. These results are highly robust to alternative measures of fiscal austerity. Improved labor market institutions help mitigate the negative effects of fiscal austerity on suicide mortality.

 

February

Prof. Dr. Pernille Eskerod, together with Karyne Ang of the University of Technology Sydney and Erling S. Andersen of the BI Norwegian Business School, conducted a study on (1) stakeholder value constructs in megaprojects, and (2) project opportunity exploitation in megaprojects. Both studies were based on the same in-depth case study.

Megaprojects consume numerous resources and impact numerous people. Those affected can even span generations. Therefore, it is important that megaprojects bring considerable value to both their initiators and other stakeholders. Instead of “just” bringing what has been accepted as “good enough” in a business case analysis at the project’s conception, megaprojects can potentially bring more value than expected if opportunities are identified and exploited. This can happen if a megaproject is used in a way that differs from its intended purpose(s) or by initially-unintended stakeholder groups.

A single case study of an infrastructure megaproject, i.e. the construction and operation of a 50+ year-old American bridge (Astoria-Megler Bridge, crossing Columbia River between Oregon and Washington states) was undertaken. The data consisted of 14 interviews, online videos of speeches, newspaper articles, books, historical documents, website texts, and photographs. Some of the interviewees were related family members (i.e., parents and son, father and daughter), thus accounting for subsequent generations being involved in construction of the bridge. In addition, Dr. Eskerod made onsite observations during a six-day stay in a hotel in Astoria, close to the bridge.

In the first study, ways to understand, classify, and express megaproject stakeholder value were identified. The research links different stakeholder types to types of value constructs. Knowing which types of value constructs matter to different stakeholder types can potentially help project representatives communicate more efficiently and effectively.

The second study shows that project opportunity exploitation can be enhanced by:

  • encouraging and accepting the involvement of many categories of stakeholders that can take advantage the project for their own purposes;
  • enhancing that stakeholders are proud of the project, and thereby will engage in or even initiate activities that are generating further benefits to themselves and/or others;
  • realizing that project opportunities may materialize after a long time (e.g. the bridge’s 50 year anniversary); and
  • celebrating achievements of the project and thereby stimulating stakeholders to exploit the opportunities created by the project, which will contribute to further benefits of the project.

The studies were presented at international conferences, i.e. IRNOP 2017 in Boston and EURAM 2017 in Glasgow, both in June 2017.

You can read more about the research in the articles below:

Eskerod, P. & Ang, K. (2017). Stakeholder Value Constructs in Megaprojects: A Long-Term Assessment Case Study. Project Management Journal, 48(6): 60-75. https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/stakeholder-value-constructs-megapr...

Eskerod, P., Ang, K. & Andersen, E.S. (2018). Increasing Project Benefits by Project Opportunity Exploitation, International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, 11(1). (will be published soon)

Astoria Bridge in 2009, Photo courtesy of Ron Reiring (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0, 2017)

 

January

Prof. Dr. Maria Madlberger, together with Dr. Jasmina Dlačić and Maja Stipetic from the University of Rijeka, conducted a study on gamification in the tourism sector. The research investigates how gamification, specifically advergames, can impact consumer behavior toward and cognition of tourism destinations.

Gamification is gaining in popularity among advertisers to support marketing and promotional activities. The use of game design elements can be an effective means of engaging users in non-gaming contexts, such as learning, business, or at work. Particularly advergames, in which a game’s premise is built around the product being advertised, are seen as a both promising and innovative advertising instrument. Advergames are serious games, that is, games whose purpose is not entertainment, but instead to serve a specific purpose, such as promoting a product or raising brand awareness.

The research team explored how an advergame can influence consumer attitude and behavioral intention through the ACB (affect, behavior, cognition) model of attitudes by investigating users’ cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses to tourism destinations that appear in an advergame. For this purpose, the researchers conducted a qualitative study with in-depth interviews among 16 non-Austrian participants from eleven countries. The study involved the advergame "Austria Snapshot Adventure" that has been launched by the Austrian National Tourist Office to promote the tourist destinations Vienna, Salzburg, and Tyrol.

The study shows that advergames can be effective in increasing users’ awareness and other cognitive performances as well as stimulating positive feelings such as fun and curiosity. Furthermore, depending on prior knowledge, the advergame can foster players’ intention to visit the destinations that appear in the game. The results showcase the potential but also the limitations of advergames in attitude formation as well as important human-computer interaction issues such as interactivity and difficulty level of the game.

The study by Dr. Madlberger, Dr. Dlačić, and Ms. Stipetic will be presented at the upcoming Multikonferenz Wirtschaftsinformatik (MKWI), which will be held in March 2018 in Lüneburg, Germany.

 

December

Green Certifications within the Hotel Industry

Prof. Dr. Pernille Eskerod and trainee scholar and MBA student Ms. Jovana Djuric, from Webster Vienna’s business and management department, are undertaking research on green certifications within the hotel industry. The research concerns how hotels participate in third-party green certification programs in order to minimize their environmental footprint and to attract environmentally-conscious customers and employees.

A blooming hotel industry has the downside of an increased negative environmental impact. At the same time, many hotel guests and employees have become conscious of eco-friendliness and green practices. In addition, 2017 has been declared by the United Nations as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. A particular emphasis has been place on resource efficiency and environmental protection.

A hotel that has green certification(s) promises more green services, products, and operations, and therefore may potentially possesses an important strategic asset when it comes to attracting customers and employees. Many green certifications are offered within the hotel industry, such as the Green Globe and Green Key certifications. Choosing which certificate(s) to pursue becomes a strategic choice for hotel management.

Dr. Eskerod and Ms. Djuric are examining green certifications in order to determine similarities and differences among them. As part of the research, they are analyzing certificate usage in different regions of the world. Even though many of the certifications are offered internationally, clear differences in dissemination across regions have been identified. In addition to region, belonging to a hotel chain or brand seems to highly influence which certificate(s) are sought.

The researchers have conducted interviews on green practices and certifications in both Serbia and Denmark. In Serbia, the interviews took place at Hotel Prag and Radisson Blu Old Mill Hotel, both in Belgrade, which are among the country’s leading business hotels. Hotel Prag has been certified by the ISO 14001 standard on Environmental Management, whereas Radisson Blu Old Mill Hotel was the first hotel in Serbia to be Green Key certified. Additionally, it received a sustainability award from the Serbian Chamber of Commerce in Sept. 2017.

In Denmark, interviews were conducted with the Deputy CEO for Foundation for Environmental Education, who is also the director of the International Green Key Program. An International Green Key Assistant and a trainee took also part in the interview. Further, Eskerod and Djuric interviewed the Danish Green Key national coordinator as well as the PR & Communication manager of a boutique hotel in Denmark. This hotel is one of the front runners, nationally and internationally, when it comes to green practices.

The two researchers presented their preliminary results at the 3rd International Tourism and Hospitality Management Conference, which was held in Belgrade, Serbia, in Sept. 2017.

 

November

Policy-related economic uncertainty puts US males at suicide risk

Younger and older males in the United States of America are more likely to commit suicide at times of increased policy-related economic uncertainty, according to new research from Webster Vienna Private University, the University of Portsmouth, and the University of Pretoria. The female population across all ages was found to be resilient to policy-related economic uncertainty.

The researchers recommend that the US government adopts a two-pronged approach. Information for the general public must communicate that the government is working hard to minimise uncertainty. As some in the population are at risk, particularly younger and older males, government should also ensure that counselling services are available for vulnerable people.

The researchers investigated suicide mortality in the United States over the period 1950-2013, taking account of other socioeconomic factors that influence suicide mortality. While it has long been recognized that periods of economic uncertainty, characterised by increased unemployment and lower economic activity, are associated with increased suicide rates, this research is the first to examine the impact of policy-related economic uncertainty on suicide mortality.

Dr Nikolaos Antonakakis, Associate Professor at Webster Vienna Private University and Visiting Fellow at the University of Portsmouth's Business School, said:

“Our results have important policy implications for the US government.

“Economic uncertainty is unavoidable. As our results show, it is higher uncertainty that tends to cause increases in suicide rates, but lower uncertainty does not necessarily reduce suicide rates. So, government must work to ensure that extreme increases in uncertainty are avoided.

“At times of uncertainty, this means the government must not only ensure that it is making strong efforts to ensure lower levels of uncertainty. It must also actively and clearly communicate this in information for the public generally, particularly to younger and older males.

“At the same time, the US government should also ensure that appropriate counselling services are available for vulnerable people, and also communicate this clearly.

“The bottom line of our analysis is that uncertainty should be kept within bounds and attempts to do so must be well-publicized. Of course, at the same time, the importance of other predictors in affecting suicide rates like unemployment and growth slowdown cannot be ignored, but these variables are likely to improve with reduction in economic policy uncertainty.”

The research is published in Social Indicators Research:
Antonakakis, N. and Gupta, R. (2017). Is Economic Policy Uncertainty Related to Suicide Rates? Evidence from the United States. Social Indicators Research 133(2), 543-560. DOI: 10.1007/s11205-016-1384-4.

Full PDF can be found here.

 

October

Last year the business and management department launched an ongoing Research Seminar series, allowing students to hear firsthand about ongoing research projects conducted by our department faculty. The primary goals of this series are for students to be exposed to the common stages and methods of academic research and apply those to their own thesis projects. Both undergraduate and graduate students are highly encouraged to attend.

Recent research seminars have focused on topics as varied as the relationship between crime rates and gambling in Slovakia, the stimuli behind the growth of mobile phone commerce, and the benefits of investing in information and communication technology. Our seminar, hosted by Dr. Ioannis Chatziantoniou Ioannis, explores the initial idea, theoretical background, hypothesis, research methods, and findings of a study on UK housing prices that he conducted in tandem with Webster’s own Dr. Nikolaos Antonakakis and Mr. David Gabauer.